..By Tariro Guwira and Evidence Chenjerai
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA) has urged community monitors in the diamond mining area of Chiadzwa to use the rights based approach to hammer on all issues that have been causing social turmoil for policy makers and law makers to take notice. This was during a workshop held with community data extractors from Chiadzwa,Marange,Odzi and Save communities to capacitate them on how to go about with their community monitoring.
The issues that have been affecting communities include massive pollution of the Save and Odzi rivers putting human and animal lives at risk, violation of the affected families rights for the forced relocating, escalating HIV prevalence among adolescent girls ,failure to provide proper school structures and health structures among others .
Speaking at a community monitors report writing training,ZELA economic governance officer Mukasiri Sibanda said issue of natural resource management is closely related to the issue of resource ownership hence the issue of documenting.
“Unfortunately, extractive industries, especially those involved in diamond mining and other extractives have neglected local communities in pursuit of profits.As Community Monitors you have the power and ability to present all the issues that have been affecting you since you are based in the areas where everything is happening.Report in an evidenced position first of all know your area,and most of all its all about targeting and influencing,”said Mukasiri.
He added that the reporting writing is a process that is aimed at strengthening the capacities of local communities in demanding participation in the management and ownership of natural resources.
“Report writing gives communities voices or platform to share experiences on the impacts of extractive industry on their community,” he said.
Mukasiri however cited that community monitors should know the constitution to be able to know when their rights have been infringed. ‘You also need to attend council meetings and have access to documents such as budgets so that you will know what to look for when reporting.’
He added that transparency and accountability is needed.“Disclosure levels include consistently furnishing public with data related to the operations of mines, beneficiary and not only supply half -baked information which is confusing and not fully explanatory ,”he said .
Malvern Mudiwa chairperson of Marange Developmental trust said “With the report writing skills they acquired they feel a sense of responsibility and ownership as it strengthens and capacitates us on issues of natural resource management,”.